Manhasset High School Welcomes the Year of the Dog

Manhasset High School Welcomes the Year of the Dog

Benjamine Mo

Twenty-eighteen marks the first year Manhasset High School and its Cultural Club have celebrated Lunar New Year, colloquially known as Chinese New Year. Observed by a sixth of the world’s population, the festivities of the new year have come to embody unity of family, endurance of heritage, and optimism for a future of luck.

February 16th marked the beginning of the zodiac year of the dog. The exact date of the new year changes annually in accordance with the moon’s motion but typically falls within mid-January to mid-February. Next Lunar New Year will welcome the zodiac year of the pig.

Traditionally, Lunar New Year culminates in a large gathering of family centered around a feast. Specific dishes carry different meanings: fish represent prosperity, dumplings represent wealth, rice balls represent togetherness, and more. Many wear red clothing, and children are given red envelopes often containing money from older relatives. Red lanterns and paper cutouts hang overhead and welcome guests at front doors.

In fact, the color red itself has become synonymous with Lunar New Year. Though difficult to clearly delineate the history of the celebration, through millennia of ritual, the significance of the color red has remained. Chinese folklore offers an explanation of the practice: thousands of years ago, a creature named Nian, or “year,” terrorized villagers on New Year’s Eve. Villagers soon discovered that Nian feared loud noises and the color red, beginning the custom of wearing red and setting off loud firecrackers. Red also symbolizes luck and fortune, befitting a celebration which centers around hopes for the future.

This year, Cultural Club worked with the student body and ENL program to bring Lunar New Year celebrations to Manhasset. Over the week of the 16th, Chinese and Korean music was played over the loudspeakers before school. A table was set up adorned with traditional hangings and other traditional decorations, and flyers were hung around school hallways. On Friday, red envelopes were given out containing positive Chinese proverbs, wishing students and staff happiness. Cultural Club looks forward to celebrating Lunar New Year for years to come.

March 2nd marked the final day of Lunar New Year celebrations, observed by the Chinese Lantern Festival. During the end of festivities, beautifully decorated lanterns are released into the sky, some with riddles attached by string. Many enjoy bowls of tang yuan, ball-shaped dumplings with often sweet fillings, surrounded by family.

With Lunar New Year celebrations at an end, let’s all remember to share our laughter and love with family and friends, looking forward with optimism to the luck and fortune that Springtime and the year of the dog will bring.